Photo courtesy Jill Willson

Leading the Transition for Athletics

A Q&A with HSU interim Athletic Director Jill Willson.
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A Q&A with HSU interim Athletic Director Jill Willson

The athletic department at Humboldt State is in a transition phase under the new administration of President Tom Jackson Jr. Previous interim Athletic Director Duncan Robins left his position in June.

While searching for a permanent Athletic Director, President Jackson recruited Jill Willson and her company Double L Consulting for the position. Willson received her degree in biology from West Texas A&M University, then went on to coach the women’s basketball team and later run the athletic department for the university. Willson specializes in Division II athletics, more specifically in community outreach and recruiting and she serves on an NCAA committee for Division II athletics. Willson created Double L consulting to help Division II schools run their athletic department during times of transition.

Could you tell me about your personal background and the company you are with?

I’m a longtime women’s basketball coach and former athletic director at Texas A&M- Kingsville, which is where I spent the majority of my career. In 2007 I started my own company, which is called Double L consulting, two L’s in Jill and two L’s in Willson is how I came up with the name. I really founded the company to help Division II schools across the country. I help schools with the membership process and the transition from NAIA or Division III to Division II programs. I arrange all of the community engagement events for the Division II National Championship events. Three years ago I diversified Double-L consulting to help schools hire athletic directors, and what we do is help fill the seat while the athletic department is doing the search, so they are not down a staff member.

What are your goals, within the athletic department, for the upcoming academic year?

Our job is to help build a quality pool of candidates for the search committee to help find the next Humboldt State Athletic Director. It’s my goal to do a bit of a program review and evaluate what kinds of things we are going well and what things we need to work on so that when the permanent athletic director is hired in January, they can take off and run.

What is your current evaluation of the athletic department and where do you want it to be when you turn the reigns to the next athletic director?

Honestly, what makes Humboldt such an amazing institution is the people, and the athletic department staff is no different. They do a tremendous job at recruiting student-athletes and getting them to be great athletes, helping them do well academically and getting them to graduate. I think this is a great opportunity to help the athletic department to do an even better job at what they already do well.

What qualities are you looking for in the next athletic director for Humboldt State?

You need to have someone come in that is committed to making a difference in Humboldt County and on-campus at HSU. We need to have someone who can help fundraise, and the responsibility of the next athletic director will be to find new revenue streams and open up the athletic department to new boosters and new donors. Being a great leader and leading by example on campus for the student-athletes is crucial, and we need to be able to hold coaches accountable for academic success as well.

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